Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission is a unique book about the nitty-gritty of foreign missions. Tradecraft was written by missionaries to equip others for the work of missions. It’s a book I’ve been eager to read since I first heard about it a year or so ago. I’ll finally be digging into it in the coming weeks, and I’m exited that I have the opportunity to share what I learn with you, as I will be applying the once-arcane missionary tradecraft in my own city and blogging about it as part of the Upstream Collective’s Tradecraft Blogging team.
When I was a teenager, I filled one wall of my bedroom with maps. The maps were not just to look at; they were to pore over and ponder. On the left was the National Geographic world map. Next was a map of the United States, and then a map of Oregon, and then a map of Clatsop County, each map zooming in tighter until Cannon Beach came into focus. I still love maps, to study them and consider the geography and the embedded history, to wonder about the strange place-names, and the language. I keep a small book of maps of the world at my bike shop, to be able to learn precisely where a foreign-student customer hails from.
As a boy, I loved books even more than maps; especially books involving mysterious folk like detectives and spies. Or biographies of explorers and stories of adventure! National Geographic magazines, with all of their portrayals of far-off people and places further whetted my appetite. I was drawn, like many boys that age, to adventure and action, to treasure maps and secret missions.
I joined the Army out of high school, with my one request being a tour overseas. Four of my six years in the Army were spent away from the familiar US – about half in West Germany (the Wall remained at that time) and half in the Persian Gulf countries of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. I didn’t have the kinds of adventures I had read about, but I did interact with cultures and languages, and pondered over the things that made people come together, and the things that pushed them apart.
Soon after I got out of the Army I became a Christian, and my reading focus shifted over time to missionary biographies. As I traded the Tom Clancy novels for ‘Through Gates of Splendor’ and other missionary biographies, I learned that the things that had so captivated me as a younger man had beautiful and rich counterparts on the mission field. My love of language and culture and maps and stories – all of these were a vital part of the work of cross-cultural missions – especially foreign missions in places resistant to the Gospel.
At this point in the life of my family, foreign missions are not in view, but I believe that we are called to be on mission wherever we are. I desire to see the church alive and connected in every place. I want to know the people in my community, and to be able to connect with them in the redemptive Story of God. I want to cross cultures and interact with people who speak other languages. I want to connect with people who have a different world-view than I. As a starting point, I at least want to begin to understand who else shares this city with me.
I think this book will help me move in the right direction, so come along as I delve into the mysteries of Tradecraft. It should be an adventure!